Monthly Archives: May 2004

The Mechanics of a Jobless Recovery

It seems that Israel is going through the same “jobless” recovery experienced in the US nearly half a year ago, with Haaretz reporting that High unemployment persists in Q1 2004 despite growth. So, I thought to put my Macroeconomics knowledge to good use, and give a quick explaination as to why things aren’t as bad as they seem.
Jobless recoveries are, actually, quite natural. Because of something called “labor hoarding,” whereby companies tend to hold their employee corps constant while uncertainty persists in the economy, the labor force takes a while before it grows. Intuitively, this means that a boss who doesn’t know how much his or her sales will rise by will not hire more workers until it is proven that profits will constantly grow. Makes sense, right? If you had a corner store, and weren’t sure that sales would maintain their high level, you probably wouldn’t hire an additional clerk either.
But this stage passes, usually within a quarter or two (a quarter is an economic unit of time, a quarter of a year basically). And Israel looks like it is on the path to recovery: terrorist attacks are down, investment is up, and the economy has been growing. Just like the US overshot job-growth numbers after a period of jobless recovery, I believe, in my humble opinion, that Israel will soon see a strong increase of job numbers as long as government doesn’t screw things up.

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Which Times is Right about Allawi

Being in LA as I write this, I happened across two articles on the same subject–the nomination of Iyad Allawi to be the new Iraqi Prime Minister–one from the New York Times, the other from the LA Times. And boy are the stories they tell different.
The New York Times–ever trying to find the evil influence of the CIA–writes:

“Iyad Alawi, an Iraqi neurologist known for his close ties to the Central Intelligence Agency, was chosen Friday to be the country’s interim prime minister when the Americans transfer sovereignty here on June 30.”

The LA Times, shockingly, leads up its story with:

“A secular Shiite Muslim, a former Baathist who lived in exile for more than 25 years in Britain, emerged Friday as the consensus candidate to lead the interim Iraqi government after sovereignty is returned at the end of June.”

Quite a difference, eh?
I recommend a quick glance to anyone who has yet to believe the idea of media bias; the very fact that two very “credible” news-outlets can tell such disparate stories shows that the politics of an organization effects the way they tell a story.

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Kristof’s Desired MidEast Balance

I must admit that Kristof’s last article, on The Bush and Kerry Tilt, quite confused me: after all the rhetoric, and all is said and done, what exactly is it that he wants? What would be “balanced” to Kristof?
This is an especially relevant question when one takes into mind Kristof’s earlier articles, on the abuses occuring in the Middle East. Does Kristof wish that America become more supportive of the regimes and their barbaric practices? Does he wish that Presidents Bush and Kerry would be more sympathetic to Basher Asad’s Syrian requests, that Israel pull out of the Golan Heights in order to give that tyrannical regieme more people to oppress?
This is especially important to me, since the “balance” meme is rampant amongst leftist circles. America is continually warned that it is no longer an “honest broker,” that it is “loosing its credibility in the Middle East.” But why should that matter? If Palestinians are being treated better by Israel in Israel than they are by their own government in PA administrated territories (see the The Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group report), why should the US act any differently?
With Sharon still planning to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza, and Yassir Arafat still doing nothing to stop terrorism, there is no room for “balance” of the type Kristof so desires. If anything, the US needs to be less inclined to appease the tyrannical Arab regimes, and more biased towards democracies.

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Tikkun Leil Shavuot Event Tonight

Tonight, a group I co-founded, the Creative Zionist Circle, is running an activity at an alternative Tikkun Leil Shavuot in Manhattan’s JCC.
The Tikkun is a great opportunity for members of the Jewish community to come together and dig deeper into the reasons and motivations for our actions. For non-Jews, it is a good introduction to deeper Jewish thought, a window into another spiritual world. I hope that, if you are in New York, you will be able to come.

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The War of Images

To leave with you with something to think about on the day of rest, here is an image featured in the New York Times, regarding a story headlined: Gaza’s Arabs Tally Non-Human Losses: Houses, Even a Zoo

Tank with Palestinian Shadows.jpg

A picture is worth a thousand words, isn’t it? It can be as biased as a politically-intended propaganda press release. Does the New York Times show any pictures of the tunnels, under Rafah, through which millions of dollars of guns, ammunition and drugs are smuggled from Egypt? Does it show pictures of terrorist attacks, from the victim’s point of view?
No, they don’t, nor could they, really. Because they would be killed. And this puts the paper in a strange situation: either show only one side of the situation, or show no side at all. This is a choice between balance and bias, and, as you can see above, they chose bias. So while I think the picture shown has intrinsic worth, and should be seen in context–by itself it is only a piece of propaganda hosted by the New York Times, further confusing the situation in the Middle East and moving the region as a whole further away from an atmosphere of truth and reconciliation, which is a pre-requisite to peace.

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The Ivory Tower Could Be Good

Stanley Fish, outgoing dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, published a very interesting and timely op-ed today in the NYTimes, called Why We Built the Ivory Tower.
While Dean Fish does not go into which political strains have taken over campuses across America, and he certainly does not even touch on the problem with Middle East Studies, the words are fitting:

While academics in general will agree that a university should not dance to the tune of external constituencies, they will most likely resist the injunction to police the boundary between academic work and political work. They will resist because they simply don’t believe in the boundary they believe that all activities are inherently political, and an injunction to avoid politics is meaningless and futile.
Now there is some truth to that, but it is not a truth that goes very far. And it certainly doesn’t go where those who proclaim it would want it to go. It is true that no form of work including even the work of, say, natural science stands apart from the political, social and economic concerns that underlie the structures and practices of a society. This does not mean, however, that there is no difference between academic labors and partisan labors, or that there is no difference between, for example, analyzing the history of welfare reform a history that would necessarily include opinions pro and con and urging students to go out and work for welfare reform or for its reversal.

I hope Dean Fish represents the beginnings of a wave that will carry away the overly political professors who preach their dogma in the classroom, and bring forth a new era of efforts towards impartiality and a renewed search for the truth.

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NYTimes’ James Bennet Nearly Kidnapped

In an interesting twist of fate, the New York Times’ Israel correspondent, James Bennet, was almost kidnapped by Palestinians in Gaza today, when he tried to cover the reprecussions of the IDF raid.
As for the results of the Gaza Raid itself, there are conflicting accounts of the damage. One one had, many papers feature on their front page stories saying Israel killed at least ten Palestinians, many of them children. On the other hand, Israel says that “The numbers distributed by the Palestinians are exaggerated and totally false. Seven Palestinians were killed, of which four to five were armed terrorists.” Dan Gillerman, Israel’s ambassador to the UN continues to say that he “can only express my disappointment that some members of the international community have been misled by the Palestinian propaganda machine. Who do you trust? I don’t know. The Palestinians certainly have exaggerated in the past, but Israel has more to gain. I hope there will be an independent investigation into the matter.

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